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These 2 new signings have to start for Radcliffe in the season opener

Radcliffe starts their season in the Northern Premier League this Saturday against South Shields. The Football Manc Cave is giving a glimpse into how Radcliffe could line up and more.

Pre-Season

Radcliffe have had a pretty interesting pre-season campaign and I got to see two of the games. They lost against Bury 3-1. They also managed a draw with Leicester’s youngsters, 1-1. The Bury game showed some good first-half football form the Boro’ lads, and a goal from Ben Wharton was what saw them look like they might have a chance. Only the second half stood in their way when Bury produced some quality football. There was a little scuffle in the first half involving Rick Smith which made me keep an eye on him in their next game.

The Leicester friendly was certainly not very friendly as a Leicester player apparently spat in a Radcliffe player’s face. This resulted in him and Danny Mitchley being sent off. This was only in the first couple of minutes and it resulted in a huge delay as managers called the referee over to explain his decisions. Shortly after, the ref was calling his linesmen to follow him in walking off the pitch as he didn’t want to take control of the game. It was fans that convinced the officials to rethink and Rick Smith has a quick and quiet word that saw the game go on. Smith also was rewarded with a goal and there was some good football from Boro.

Players

With Dan Mitchley getting a red card in the last friendly, he will certainly be one to watch throughout the season. He’s a great player, just needs to stay out of trouble. Rick Smith and Scott Metcalfe are two other players that can be a bit mouthy with referees so they need to keep quiet and play on. Ben Wharton is a key goal scorer for Radcliffe only you can see him getting tired at times throughout games so he gets taken off early from time to time giving someone else a chance.

Line Up

Going off friendly games, this is how Radcliffe could line up…

The ultimate decisions will obviously come down to Jon Macken. Harry Winter is a new player who is looking for a chance. Rick Smith has also dropped to a defensive position during the pre-season friendlies which is a change from his usual midfield position. He has done a brilliant job though and even managed to score in games.

Smith is loud at the back and directs the rest of the team too. Ben Wharton could get replaced with Matthew Wolfenden in the second half of the game if he’s looking tired. Finally, new signing, Olapade may be given a chance as the defence has been left open to speculation as it hasn’t been the same in any of the friendlies.

Radcliffe showed steely determination to hold on for a draw with Leicester City U23s

Radcliffe faced Leicester City U23s on Tuesday night in their last friendly before the season opener against South Shields on the 17th of August.

The game had a lively start when inside the first 2 minutes of the game there was an altercation in the box before a Radcliffe corner, with Leicester’s number 9 (Ali Regba) apparently spitting in a Radcliffe player’s face. This led to a lot of squaring up in the box and a red card apiece with Regba sent off and number 10 for Radcliffe (Danny Mitchley) also shown a straight red, after quite a lengthy delay the game was continued.

Radcliffe’s style of play was quite admirable as it was clear they were trying to build out from the back with the goalkeeper often distributing it short. It did lead to a few instances in which the ball either went straight out for a throw-in or when the ball was played back to the keeper putting them under immediate pressure. Its key to remember this was a preseason game.

Inspired keeping

Leicester mostly relied on long balls over the top or into space for their pacey wingers or front men to run on to, which did cause Radcliffe some problems. However, their goalkeeper, Ollie Martin was in inspired form making several key saves to deny Leicester early goals.

Radcliffe then went on to score first after a good cross led to Rick Smith planting a header in at the far post. Leicester then continued to have the better of the chances and their breakthrough came at the end of extra time in the first half. Tyrese Shade for Leicester took a confused the keeper with his touch before calmly slotting home into an empty net.

That was how the first half ended and the scores remained after Radcliffe dug in well in the second half, showing some excellent resilience to not only hold on for a draw but also continue to push for a result. They look like they will be an entertaining side to watch in the NPL Premier Division this season.

Photo Credit: Radcliffe FC

Stoke City and Aston Villa go head to head over Man Utd defender

Man United defender, Axel Tuanzebe has gained interest from Stoke City and Aston Villa. According to the Daily Mail, Man United want to keep hold of him.

The offers these clubs are making are expected to be rejected, as Tuanzebe has been put in the first-team plans at Old Trafford ahead of the season.

The 21-year-old is wanted by Stoke, and apparently only on a loan basis as Ryan Shawcross is out with a broken ankle which he picked up in pre-season. This leaves Nathan Jones looking for a replacement.

Aston Villa and Nottingham Forest have also registered their interest as he impressed at Villa Park last season. However, as well as Man United looking likely to reject any bids, the defender is also reluctant to leave his current club as he wants the chance to impress at Old Trafford.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is also prepared to move out one of his defenders after the arrival of Harry Maguire. However, the injury that Eric Bailey has sustained means he doesn’t want to leave himself short of cover options. This also means that Solskjaer needs the 21-year-old to step up to Premier League football.

It’s a fair plan from Man United, as they’ve just spent so much on Maguire that building their own players and making them step up to league football is a sensible option. Hopefully, Tuanzebe can pull through, have a good season, stand out to clubs and push up his fees in case he wants to leave in the future, although right now, he should be given a chance.

Two qualities Maguire will finally bring to Man Utd’s backline

Harry Maguire has completed his long-awaited move to Old Trafford. Here is how one man from Sheffield can fix Manchester United.

Harry Maguire has become the world’s most expensive defender after joining Man Utd from Leicester for a reported fee of £80million.

Fans of the great Red Devils have been keen on bringing in a new defender for many years, particularly after the frequent injuries of Eric Bailly.

Maguire was in the spotlight during England’s 2018 World Cup in Russia. The centre-half pitched in with goals and assists in a competition which brought the nation together over the love of football, making a name for himself on the biggest stage.

Regardless of the huge price tag, public interviews and interactions with Harry Maguire show him to be a very humble and hard-working professional. Solskjaer has added a great character to his dressing-room. But what has he added to what we see on the pitch?

Ball playing centre-half

Manchester United struggle immensely with bringing the ball out from the back. The only top-quality defender in the side, Victor Lindelof, has begun to do this more often since the arrival of Solskjaer, to great effect.

However, pre-season taught us that Rojo, Smalling and Jones are incapable of playing from the back. Often running into trouble and losing the ball.

By having Harry Maguire in the squad, there will be two defenders able to carry the ball forward, preventing the fear of leaving a weakness alone at the back. Maguire completed 17 ‘take-ons’ last season. This is more than any other centre back in the Premier League.

So, not only is Maguire capable of bringing the ball into the midfield, he is one of the best at it.

Aerial wins

Solskjaer’s defence falls apart from set-pieces. They are completely lost when it comes to handling aerial threats in their own box.

This is where the ex-Leicester City man steps in. According to the following statistic from a football statistician who is frequently seen on MUTV, “Harry Maguire won 73% of his duels in the Premier League last season, Virgil van Dijk (76%) was the only CB with a better success rate (minimum 2000 minutes played).”

Therefore, David De Gea will have two fantastic defenders in front of him. Capable of dealing with a multitude of threats.

With Harry Maguire’s aerial abilities and desire to transition the ball into midfield, you can expect this Man Utd side to concede fewer and score more. A great signing for Manchester United.

Look forward to it Man Utd fans. How many stoppage-time headers will Maguire score this season?

Radcliffe Borough’s backline gives Macken cause for concern ahead of the new season

The good news for former Premier League players turned Non-League coaches Jon Macken and Frank Sinclair is that they’ve still two weeks to get their Radcliffe Boro’ side up and running for the new season.

The bad news lies with their backline and the quality of defending that lies within. Opposition Workington, who will begin their 2019/20 season a league below Boro, ran the back four ragged all afternoon.

Set pieces proved to be the place where the reds found their joy, the place where Gari Rowntree scored his first goal and won the penalty that led to their second, all inside 20 minutes. Sloppy defending by Scott Metcalfe lead to Boro’s nightmare start and left a mountain to climb from the off.

A shame for Macken’s men, their offensive play in the final third will cause trouble for any team. The pace of winger Elliot Rokka, the presence of forward Ben Wharton, plus the creative and energetic midfield of Kingsley Williams and Prince Heywood should see Boro do well over the coming months.

However, the greatest cause for concern will be the defence. The way Workington scored their fourth goal, a quick-paced move that sliced right through the Boro side, ending with Brad Hubbolo slotting past Ollie Martin with ease. Leaving the former City player banging his head on the newly installed dugout.

Tough season ahead for Radcliffe

Radcliffe was a tough nut to crack in promotion from the then Evo-Stik West league. Yet with a tougher challenge ahead in the coming season, the coaching staff were left shaking their heads at which players will start the season against South Shields. 

Workington’s manager Danny Grainger, named as a sub on the team sheet, has all good intentions of playing out of the back,  although the old-fashioned long ball style was their greatest weapon. A double from skipper Scott Allison, first a penalty then a smash and grab second had his side in complete control that was simply too big a challenge to deal with. 

This was the home sides fifth pre-season friendly in what’s turning out to be a long pre-season at the Nueven Stadium. Back-to-back home defeats with seven goals conceded – four against Workington and three against Bury last Tuesday- can do the prospective defenders including Leon Wright, Harry Winter, Lewis Lacy and Metcalfe no good. Nobody has guaranteed themselves a place in Macken’s starting eleven yet.

The old question of how much do the pre-season matches really matter could hold the Boro backline in good stead. Ahead of the game against Premier League side Leicester City this coming Tuesday, Macken and co will be hoping to avoid a cricket score, whether the Foxes field a first-team or a team of academy stars. 

Whatever the magnitude of the game, shipping four goals at home can do no team any good for confidence, pre-season or not. 

Man Utd injury forces Woodward’s transfer hand

Eric Bailly is injured once again, but there may be some silver lining to this sad story for Man United.

Man Utd’s Ivorian defender Eric Bailly suffered a knee injury in their pre-season match again Spurs. In an attempt to block the goal from a cutting-inside Son Heung-min, Bailly found himself hitting the ground on several occasions in a matter of second, due to the South Korean ‘fake shooting’ inside the box. The attack amounted to nothing, but Bailly’s season could have been over in that moment.

Bailly’s knee injury has been a recurring problem since he joined from Villareal in 2016. According to Man Utd fans, Bailly is regarded as their second-best centre-back, behind the recently in-form Victor Lindelof.

In the three years that Bailly has been at Old Trafford, he has only made 50 Premier League appearances. This is an average of less than 17 PL appearances per season. There is no doubt about his talent, but his injuries make him too unreliable for a team trying to win trophies again.

The silver lining

Man Utd has been in talks with Leicester City’s Harry Maguire. In typical Man Utd fashion, the deal has been prolonged in an attempt to lower the price as much as possible.

Ed Woodward’s slow negotiations have caused great frustration to the fans over recent years, but especially this summer. However, with Man Utd’s second-best centre-back being spotted in Manchester with a cast on his leg, Woodward may ‘be forced to meet Leicester’s £80million asking price for Harry Maguire’, according to the Mirror.

With Maguire in the squad, the missing piece of Man Utd (a solid defence) will finally be complete. As Solskjaer’s attack during pre-season looks almost complete.

The final touches: What Guardiola should be getting right in Man City training this week

Man City won the domestic quadruple in 18/19, but how can Guardiola ensure European success next season?

Man City’s pre-season has arguably not been a challenging one, losing only one game on penalties against Wolves. Therefore, it is necessary for Guardiola to continue drilling tactics, fitness and work ethic into his side.

After back to back league titles and a domestic sweep last season, the one trophy missing is the Champions League. In order to compete heavily in all competitions, here are a few things that the Citizens need to work on, courtesy of The Football Manc Cave.

Manchester City’s intense build-up play was devastating to the rest of the Premier League last season. However, with their unquestioned dominance, it is obvious knowledge that other Premier League teams will be concentrating on cracking their code and figuring them out.

Although Guardiola cannot be expected to completely change his style of play, he needs to be aware that the competition in the league is growing. Teams such as Man Utd, Leicester City, Wolves and Everton are building to challenge for top four in the next few seasons.

Patching up the weakness

Man City have introduced defensive midfielder Rodri, who joined from Atletico Madrid this summer. Man City’s high and intense press left space at the back for teams to attack. It is important that Rodri learns the ropes and can act as a rock in front of the defence, which would patch up a slight weakness in the squad.

Defending counter-attacks efficiently could combat the rest of the league’s plans to knock Man City off their pedestal.

The depth of quality in the Manchester City squad should allow for them to be successful both domestically and in Europe. However, recent seasons have demonstrated otherwise. Guardiola must have a fully fit squad with enough quality to consistently perform throughout each competition next season.

Forget Newcastle Utd’s Longstaff, here are two 30m players that are better suited to Man Utd

Man Utd could get a much better deal than overspending for the unproven Newcastle United midfielder Sean Longstaff.

In Man Utd’s pursuit to improve their midfield, they have opted for Newcastle United’s 21-year-old Sean Longstaff, who has 9 games experience in the Premier League. Great business!

Newcastle is expecting a surplus of £50million for the midfielder, a figure that Man Utd are unwilling to match.

The attributes that drew the attention of Man Utd are his fantastic passing abilities. The youngster is capable of picking out long passes, progressing play and being very aware of the positioning and movement of his teammates. Hence why he is being dubbed ‘the new Michael Carrick’.

Here are two alternatives to overpaying for an unproven midfielder.

Radja Nainggolan

Nainggolan is a 31-year-old midfielder for Inter Milan. According to recent reports, he has been mentioned to Man Utd in a swap deal (plus cash) for their striker Romelu Lukaku.

Solskjaer’s midfield is currently very inexperienced after losing Herrera and Fellaini. Leaving the very slow and lethargic Nemanja Matic to take charge of a young midfield, all of which are better than him. Nainggolan would add mature, defensive stability for Solskjaer and would not demand more than 30 games a season. The other positive is that Lukaku would be gone also, who has fallen out of favour with the manager.

Wilfred Ndidi

According to Transfermarkt, Leicester City’s Ndidi is worth around £31.5million. More proven in the Premier League than Longstaff, 22-year-old Ndidi is a defensive midfielder. He can replace Nemanja Matic who is incapable of keeping up with Solskjaer’s ‘Ole ball’; a fast-paced, high-pressing, counter-attacking style of play.

The Nigerian’s price may be ramped up to around £50million, the fee Newcastle expects for Longstaff, due to Man Utd’s links to fellow Leicester City man Harry Maguire.

However, a midfield of Ndidi, Pogba and McTominay would be perfect. Composed of strength, pace, Man Utd identity and Premier League talent.

Former Oldham Athletic ‘keeper signs for Rotherham Utd, here are 2 things they will be getting

Former Oldham Athletic loanee Daniel Iverson is looking to have another successful loan spell, this time with Rotherham Utd.

Last season, Leicester City’s 22-year-old goalkeeper enjoyed a loan spell in League Two with Oldham Athletic. The Dane kept 16 clean sheets in 49 games in all competitions for the Latics and will take a step up to League One to lend his services to Rotherham for one season.

Rotherham found themselves relegated to the third tier upon Iverson’s return to Leicester, and could see some major development as he aims to help the side return to the Championship.

Here are two things that the League One side will be getting from Iverson this season…

Up for the challenge

In an interview with his new club, Iverson said: “I played in League Two last year and I think it’s a good match for me to come to League One now and show what I can do”.

After 16 clean sheets with Oldham, Iverson will be looking to do better. Having a first-team keeper alongside a youngster itching to prove himself, it can’t do any harm to their challenge for promotion.

Leicester City has retained this goalkeeper since he joined in 2016, meaning that a top-flight club believes in his abilities.

For club and country

Iverson made 3 appearances for his country this summer’s in the UEFA European Under-21 Championship. However, he will be looking to be in the books for the International side in future as well.

With two celebrated teams backing him (Leicester and Denmark) after a successful season in League Two. His talents should be able to see Rotherham have an even more successful season with him in the ranks.

Iverson could be a regular fixture in the future of Leicester City, and successful seasons with Oldham and Rotherham could be a big part of his story in getting there.

Leicester City looking to cherry-pick Bury FC youngster

Alan Nixon has reported how Bury could be about to lose another player, this time to Leicester City.

The Football Manc Cave noticed a tweet from Nixon that stated how Leicester City are apparently looking at a possible deal for Bury’s, Callum Hulme. He has also stated that if that could go ahead, it would financially help Bury for a short term.

18-year-old Hume is a midfielder who joined Bury from being a junior player at Man City. In February 2017, he moved to the Shakers on a 2-year scholarship. After being a regular in the youth squad, he signed a full professional contract with the club in January 2019.

This would be a brilliant move for the youngster as he started his career at a big club and he’d be moving back to another top-flight club. That’s every player aim and if the rumours are true, I’m guessing he won’t even be giving this a second thought.

If this was to go ahead, Bury could put a good asking price on the table when it comes to making a deal, so that the funds can help to financially stable the club for the time being. I’m not saying it will completely save Bury’s financial troubles although it’s got to temporarily help.

However, this won’t help them on the pitch. Skint Bury will obviously start the season with a 12 point deduction after agreeing on a rescue plan. To make matters worse, there are hardly any players left. In a friendly against Nantwich just over a week ago, every one of the 22 squad players was trialists.

Paul Wilkinson

Since Paul Wilkinson took over Bury at the start of July, he’s lost 8 players taking the total of departed players this summer to a staggering, 14. From their last game of the season against Port Vale, 9 of those players have jumped ship now and Callum Hume could, unfortunately, add to that number.

As a Bolton Wanderers fan, I’m going through the exact same thing as Bury fans right now and I have full sympathy for you. It’s an awful situation to be in. Obviously, players that are scared about how they’ll cope financially going forward will just leave clubs like ours in their current state to better themselves. Although we completely understand players decisions, it’s still a hard pill to swallow when it gets closer and closer to the start of the season and we don’t have a full squad.

I wish Bury and their fans good luck. For both clubs, miracles will have to happen in the coming days.

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